I’ve read my share of articles on “101 things to test to improve conversion rates”.
While most of the suggestions are usually sound, I find that these lists are often overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.
So here’s how to start with a a simple but often overlooked problem – your links / link visibility.
Specifically, do your links look like links? Do visitors know what will happen after they click on a link?
This goes back to one of my main mantras in conversion rate optimization – Don’t make me think.
Visitors don’t read web pages, they skim. And when skimming, you should make these two points very obvious:
- What elements on a page are a link?
- What will happen when I click on that link?
While the answers to the above questions are obvious to you – the site creator, they aren’t always obvious to a first time site visitor.
Here’s how you can actually fix any issues your links might have.
First of all, print out your homepage (or other page you want to test). Take the printout to someone who has never seen your site before, if possible, someone who is similar to your target audience.
Now ask them to circle the links on the page with a pen or highlighter. For extra credit, use two pens. A blue one for elements they’re pretty sure are a link and a red one for elements they think are a link but aren’t sure.
This alone should unveil any major issues where visitors aren’t sure what actions they can take on page.
Next, ask them to mark any links where they aren’t 100% sure what will happen once they click on the link.
For example, a link labeled “HOT” might be confusing where “Most Popular Items” would not be.
Lastly, people know a link is a link based on two different criteria.
- What it says
- What it looks like
When viewing a page, what a link looks like will be the first thing a visitor notices. Is it a different color? Does it have an underline? etc.
Only after reading the link text will they factor in what it says. For example, “Click Here”, “More Info” or “Add to Cart”.
In order to make sure visitors can find links based purely on what they look like, we’ll use the “Greek Link Test”. The idea is to translate all of a page’s text to Greek and then see if people know what’s a link and what isn’t.
First thing is to go to Google Translate – http://translate.google.com/ choose English to Greek and enter the URL of your page.
For example, here’s what my blog looks like in Greek: http://goo.gl/EKwya
Now print the page (now in Greek) and do the same exercise as before. Ask someone who is not familiar with the site to mark all of the links on the page.
Now that you’ve identified problematic links on your page, you have one of two possibilities.
Your best option is to actually split test problematic links with ones that look more like a link. This will tell you conclusively the effect of improving link visibility. The first metrics you should look at are bounce rate (or exit rate), page views per visit and time on site per visit. You should also look at the conversion rates for your site’s main goals, but it will probably take longer to get statistically significant data.
Please note that if time on page goes down, this is NOT a bad thing. Sometimes increasing link visibility makes it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for and they stay less time on a page.
Even if you can’t split test the links, I would still suggest trying to improve them by making them visually stand out more or improve the link text itself. Then repeat the above exercises and see if there is any improvement.
What are your thoughts?